Plastic Water Bottles

SINGLE USE PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES SUCKKKKKKKK. They are one of my least favorite things ever. In the US alone we use over 1,500 plastic water bottles per second…..

Let’s move beyond them, shall we? Here is a Simple Swap solution to help reduce the unnecessary, overpriced, toxic water vessel demons from making their way into landfills, oceans, and beyond.

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Plastic Bags

I’m starting a new series called Simple Swaps where I will share videos on easy ways to transition away from disposables and towards a more sustainable lifestyle. My first one: plastic bags.

With an estimated 2 million plastic bags being used and discarded every minute worldwide, we’ve got a serious problemo on our hands. But there’s an easy way you can eliminate your daily use of plastic bags…

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5 Ways To Reduce Your Waste TODAY


Zero waste. Don’t know where to start? Well – here are five simple changes that you can make today to reduce your waste:

  1. Switch to reusable bags.​This is an easy one. Not only do they help the environment by cutting down on single use bags that will basically just float around all A​merican Beauty​ style for the next thousand years and pollute the oceans, but they are also a lot cuter than plastic bags.
  2. Refill.​The US consumes 1500 water bottles per second. Sad face. So whether you keep a water filter at your desk to fill up a glass to drink from, or you carry a stainless steel water bottle with you, you are preventing a lot of trash.
  3. BYO.​If you are a daily coffee drinker, (let’s face it, you probably are— A​americans consume 146 billion cups of coffee per day)​, then chances are you are buying coffee from a coffee shop in a to­go cup. Most of those will end up in a landfill. There is a simple solution, bringing your own reusable cup or mason jar to a coffee shop. As an
    added bonus, most places will give you a discount on your beverage if you do bring your own container.
  4. Brush Better.​ Over 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes are used each year. Because they are not recyclable, they end up floating in a landfill forever. By making one simple change from plastic toothbrushes to compostable bamboo ones you are not only doing yourself a favor (bamboo is naturally antimicrobial), but you are also doing the environment a solid because when you are done with the brush you can compost it. Not an ounce of trash is produced.
  5. Embrace secondhand. T​extile waste is a huge problem. We consume so much clothing that we are constantly throwing away our o​ld​ duds. On top of that, every garment produced creates textile waste that winds up in the trash. In 2013 in the US alone over 13 million tons of textiles went into landfills. An easy way to cut down on your textile trash is to shop secondhand. Don’t let that word scare you; not all secondhand is created equal. At the top of the pyramid is upscale consignment. Consignment stores are more selective, therefore it is likely that you will find high­quality and gently­worn designer pieces for a fraction of the price. Next up is vintage which, like consignment, is selective and typically high­ quality. There is also clothing that people sell for fast cash, and if you play your cards right you can find one­ of ­a ­kind designer outfits for next to nothing. Finally comes donated clothing which is a toss up; you can find some serious gems, but you could also find skid marks. So
    it’s important to be patient and shop wisely.

The big picture is that we are producing way too much trash unnecessarily, and we all have the capacity to cut down. These simple changes aren’t just beneficial for the environment, they also mean that you don’t have to take out the trash as frequently. So even if you are not into mamma nature, going waste­free creates more free time in your schedule.

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Valentines Day

Tomorrow is Valentines day. 

A day of EPIC consumerism. But my dad just did the most incredible thing for me. Instead of buying me cut flowers, he planted 50 trees in my honor. 

It is the most thoughtful valentines day gift I have ever received and totally Zero Waste. 

If you have a lover or friend that you are wanting to celebrate tomorrow – think – is there any way of doing something for them that shows you love them without having to purchase something or without purchasing something that will just be thrown away? Think about how much packaging comes around a box of chocolates. 

Could you buy them flowers that grow instead of cut ones? Succulents? Or even some seeds instead of cut flowers. 

Or better yet- could you do something together? Like cook dinner or plan activities?

My last boyfriend stopped buying me flowers early on in our relationship because he knew I got sad when they died. I have always preferred something that could grow instead of wilt away. 

These types of “non-conventional” Valentines Day gifts, in my opinion, mean so much more than a stock card or box of chocolate because they require forethought, effort, and planning. 

Does anyone else have ideas for Zero Waste alternatives to conventional Valentines Day gifts? 

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How I Celebrated my 23rd Birthday Without Producing Any Waste


I used to dread birthdays. Not the getting older part or the eating a lot part, but the idea of having all eyes on me for a day. I don’t love the attention and it has always freaked me out. This year I wanted to do something different and focus on a challenge instead of my birthday itself: a Zero Waste birthday, and it seemed to take the stress out of the day for me.

Long story short, I did it. Two dinners, three outfits, and one uptown adventure. Waste free.

Dinner #1, Saturday, May 3rd: Mable’s Smokehouse
Outfit: Daniel Silverstein Tanager Jumpsuit

Mable’s has amazing barbecue, like ridiculously good, but they use paper, plastic, and Styrofoam instead of reusable plates, bummer. But I really wanted to go and so I called Mable’s weeks in advance to see if they could host a Zero Waste birthday dinner.

They thought about it and called me back, they could! Instead of single servings, they made all of the food family style. They served us all of their sides, mac & cheese, beans, beets, greens… etc. in ceramic bowls bowls with reusable silverware, and their meat and vegan Sloppy Joe’s on large platters on the table.

For drinks we got pitchers of Peak Organic beer from the tap, and all had glass cups and had pitchers of water. The only thing that they couldn’t accommodate were napkins so I tasked all of my dinner guests with bringing their own reusable napkins to dinner, which turned out really well! After dinner, to work off the insane amounts of BBQ, we went dancing, totally ZW! PS All of the birthday hats were saved from my friend Sara’s birthday dinner at my house last year!

Dinner #2, Sunday, May 4th: ABC Kitchen
Outfit: Daniel Silverstein Kea Lonika dress


ABC Kitchen is my favorite restaurant in the city and has been for a long time – 1) because their food is insane 2) because their ethos is even better. I’ve had 2 birthday dinners, a graduation dinner, countless friend meals, and alone dinners there. They use local, pesticide free, Organic, non-GMO, and sustainable food and serve it in and on vintage, handmade, and mismatched cups, plates, silverware, tables, everything! They also have reusable napkins, sustainable spirits, and incorporate sustainability into every aspect of the restaurant. They compost and recycle avidly and did not put anything disposable in front of me except for the sugar for my espresso at the end, which I don’t use anyway. If you are looking for a little bit more information on what ABC Carpet and Home is up to, you can find it here.

Birthday Adventure, Sunday, May 4th: The Cloisters NYC
Outfit: Secondhand Jeans gifted by Katherine Kartis


Before my dinner at ABC, Anthony and I headed uptown to spend the day at The Cloisters. The Cloisters is a museum run by the Metropolitan Museum of Art that focuses on the art of medieval Europe that dates from the 12th to the 15th century.

It is way, way uptown, like nosebleed uptown, but totally worth the train ride. It is located in Fort Tryon Park and you need to do a little light hiking to get there (or you could take the bus, but we learned that after).

The museum also has gorgeous outdoor areas. My favorite one was filled with plants that were used in medieval times for everything from arts and crafts to medicine and housekeeping. After we finished our audio tour of the museum, we walked around the park and walked 100 BLOCKS downtown for dinner. (Okay, we stopped to take a birthday shot and have a beer, but still!) PS – they even used stainless steel straws! How very Zero Waste of those medieval folk!


Let’s not forget my outifts!! All of the clothing at my two dinners were provided by Daniel Silverstein, a NYC based Zero Waste Designer! LOVE HIM!

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10 Ways to Adopt a Zero Waste Lifestyle

I was recently referenced by Onegreenplanet.org as a blog to use when looking for adopting a Zero Waste Lifestyle (see #2). The article, 10 ways to Adopt a Zero Waste Lifestyle by Kate Good, is a great compilation of advice. I thought I would share it here:

On whole, the American population only represents five percent of the world’s population, yet as a nation we generate about 30 percent of the world’s garbage. Now I’m not placing blame on any one individual, we are all in this together. On average, every person in the U.S. creates one million pounds of materials per person a year. To break this down a little, that is enough garbage to fill63,000 garbage trucks everyday. All that trash doesn’t just disappear, there are over 1,908 landfills in the U.S. and we’ve all heard the stories about trash island.

I know these figures seem impossible, but think about how much waste you produce on a regular day. Disposable water bottles, coffee cups, napkins, all the packaging you throw out, the list goes on and on because we live in a very disposable society. But sitting back and accepting this trash problem is hardly the answer, in fact, with a few adjustments living a zero waste lifestyle is very possible.

Living a zero waste lifestyle involves a little forethought and a lot of inspiration. Bea Johnson, the famed Zero Waste Home blogger and zero waste guru outlines simple steps everyone can adopt to limit their trash legacy. If everyone in America adopted only a few of these habits, we could save thousands of tons of trash from landfills, improve air and water quality, and even save some money in the process.

Per Bea Johnson’s method, I have separated these tips into categories that show you how to prevent waste in the various aspects of your life.

So, what do you say, is it time for you to break up with your trash?

Kitchen

1. Down with Disposables — The kitchen is filled with disposable items that are responsible for a whole lot of waste. Try these alternatives instead:

2.  Buy in Bulk — Disposable containers generate 13 million tons of plastic waste in the U.S. Taking a few minutes of planning before you head to the grocery store can help eliminate that waste.

  • Bring mason jars to the grocery store to hold bulk items or foods from the deli counter. Check out this expert guide to zero waste shopping from Trash is for Tossers.
  • Consider buying bulk castile soap to use as hand and dish cleaner instead of buying a bunch of little bottles of different cleaners. Castille soap can also be used as body wash, shampoo,.

3.  Love your Leftovers – Forty percent of all food goes to waste in the U.S. Check out these recipes from WeHateToWaste.com and learn to love your leftovers. Whatever can’t be salvaged should be composted!

Closet

4. Shop Second Hand — Carbon Trust estimates that CO2 emissions associated with clothing account for three percent of global emissions. This number includes out-sourced production, shipping, washing, and drying. Shopping second hand saves good clothing from a landfill and reduces the overall demand for clothing production.

5.  Take Care of Clothes — Buying fewer items of higher quality will save you money in the long run and make it more likely you will take the time to mend rips and tears instead of throwing it out.

Office

6. Bring Your Lunch — According to RecycleWorks.org, disposable lunches (to-go packaging, plastic utensils, etc) generate 100 pounds of trash per person annually. Check out these waste-free lunch supplies from ReUseIt.com and save some waste and money as well.

7.  Go Digital — The average office worker uses two pounds of paper per day! Take notes on your laptop and communicate with your colleague’s via e-mail rather than using paper.

8.  Recycle! — Unless your office has gone completely paper-less, chances are there are stacks of paper that could be recycled. While reusable water bottles are the BEST option, any plastic water bottles should be recycled as well. Introduce a recycling bin to your office, you can even make a game out of it with help from Recyclebank.

Bathroom

9.  Simplify Cleaning Supplies — White Vinegar and baking soda are your new best friends. These all natural alternatives to dangerous chemical cleaners are versatile, effective, and eliminate plastic bottle waste. Check out this link for a list of zero waste alternatives for all your bathroom supplies.

10.  Make Your Own Cosmetics — Save money, avoid harsh chemicals, plastic containers, and packaging by making your own cosmetics. Check out Free People’s blog for instructions on how to make your own natural cheek and lip stains, perfume, shampoo, make-up remover, and more. Also be sure to check out OGP’s very own DIY beauty guides right here.
Thanks for the love One Green Planet!!
xo Lauren

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